Occupational Metallic Mercury Poisoning in Gilders

M Vahabzadeh, M Balali-Mood


Occupational exposure to elemental mercury vapor usually occurs through inhalation during its utilizations. This leads to a variety of adverse health effects. In some Islamic cities, this type of poisoning may occur during gilding of shrines using elemental mercury with gold. Herein, we report on three male patients aged 20–53 years, who were diagnosed with occupational metallic mercury poisoning due to gilding of a shrine. All patients presented with neuro-psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, loss of memory and concentration, and sleep disorders with high urinary mercury concentrations of 326–760 μg/L upon referring, 3–10 days after cessation of elemental mercury exposure. Following chelating therapy, the patients recovered clinically and their mercury concentrations declined to non-toxic level (<25 μg/L). Health, environmental and labor authorities, as well as the gilders should be aware of the toxicity risk of exposure to metalic mercury during gilding in closed environments and act accordingly.


Mercury; Mercury compounds; Mercury poisoning; Occupational exposure; Mercury poisoning, nervous system

doi: 10.15171/ijoem.2016.776

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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